‘Tis the season of the Silicon Valley shakeup. The Spring clean. The latest is at BitPass, where CEO of Menlo Park micropayment company, BitPass has “disappeared.” (See here for details.) We called the company and a couple of investors to inquire about what happened with Michael O’Donnell, but the company declined to comment. Departures so far this week were at Tribe, Intel and Shopping.com.
Though two brief notes, one on Shopping.com, the other on Intel:
1) While Shopping.com undergoes some turmoil, here’s a story we wrote today about a quiet, private company, NexTag, following in Shopping’s shadow.
2) Today’s VentureWire story (sub req) wrote the following about the departure of Claude Leglise from Intel’s venture capital arm, Intel Capital, which should raise suspicion in any thinking person: Leglise wouldn’t confirm or deny that his job change is part of a corporate personnel restructuring. Turns out, Intel spokeswoman Laura Anderson was a bit confused by that wording, because she said Leglise made it clear he was leaving of his own accord and that he wanted to partake of some investing action in Asia — and she suggested VentureWire had a particular agenda for the story when they called. Bottom line, we don’t know. But, when we talked with Leglise six months ago, he was brimming with enthusiasm about China. “We’ve had some spectacular wins,” he told us, referring to Intel’s VC investments in companies like UTStarcom, Sohu.com, AsiaInfo and ChinaCast — all of which IPO’d. Better, instead of merely adopting U.S. technologies, Chinese companies are now developing their own technology — making things much more exciting there — and Leglise said he went to China six times last year. Sure, 300 million Chinese have cellphones, he told us. “But there’s a billion who don’t. The opportunity is still staggering.” Indeed, we think Leglise simply “went native,” rubbed up against to many eager, energetic Chinese entrepreneurs to resist diving in himself. And there’s the Spring factor. It’s the time, Intel’s Anderson says, when people tend to make changes.
UPDATE: Leglise just got back to us, and said he too was baffled by the wording of the previously mentioned article. He said his departure had nothing to do about change at Intel. “Itï¿½s just my personal decision. Iï¿½ve been at Intel 22 years, the last four years at Intel Capital, and now I understand what venture investing is all about,” he told us. “I really, really enjoy it.” As leader of Intel’s internal investment committee, he approved 150 different transactions, he said. “And now I want to go do it. I want to focus on Asia,” he said, referring to the U.S., China and India “triangle.”
UDPATE: We revised above entry to reflect response from BitPass spokesman Johnny Wong, who said the company isn’t commenting on the CEO changes.